The best way to go about cleaning a conveyor can differ from one application to another, since there are so many different types of conveyor systems. Some conveyors can be built with a clean-in-place (CIP) system in mind, which involves components such as lifting arms, scrapers, and brushes. Simpler versions of these systems just have scrapers or brushes to keep material from building up on a belt, while more complex designs also include spray bars and can be cleaned almost automatically. Cleaning a conveyor that has cleats can be more difficult, though long-bristled roller brushes can typically do the job. Other designs can be even more complicated, such as bucket conveyors that must be disassembled and cleaned remotely, while many vibrating conveyors are also equipped with CIP systems.
One of the most common and versatile conveyor systems uses a pulley-driven belt that can be smooth, cleated, or anything in between. Cleaning a conveyor that uses this type of design can be much easier if some thought is given to that task during the design phase. Conveyor belts that carry loose, wet, or sticky materials should have some type of scraper or brush system in place, which can make cleaning much easier. These components are typically installed on rollers that contact the belt on the bottom side, so they can continuously clean whenever the belt is in operation.
If a conveyor belt is clean-in-place equipped, then the job of cleaning can be much faster and simpler. Lift arms are often used in these systems, since they can be used to raise pulleys. During a cleaning cycle, that can allow the belt to be both powered and lifted. Spray arms can also be installed to deliver various foamers and cleaners, which can speed up the process and allow the belt to return to service much quicker. Rough and cleated belt surfaces can be more difficult to clean, though brushes with different lengths and types of bristles can usually be effective.
Other conveyor systems require different cleaning methods. Bucket conveyors cannot make use of scrapers, brushes, or wipers due to the way they hold materials. Some of these systems are also set up for CIP, and include sprayers and dryers that can clean them when they are empty, as they return down the back or bottom side of the system. In some cases the buckets may be removed for remote washing though, which can result in a much more thorough job of cleaning a conveyor system than CIP allows.
Vibrating conveyors are often set up for CIP as well, and they are often better suited for that procedure than bucket conveyors. Cleaning a conveyor that consists of little more than a smooth, metal surface typically just involves spraying it down and then drying it off. This can be done manually, though a stationary CIP installation can typically perform an adequate job as well.